Estimating Software - Technology - Contractor Talk

Estimating Software

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 12-21-2009, 10:21 PM   #1
Pro
 
d-rock's Avatar
 
Trade: carpentry/drywall/plaster
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: NYC
Posts: 377
Rewards Points: 250

Estimating Software


Thinking of getting into estimating software, any suggestions ?
are take-off programs completely different from estimating programs ?
are there affordable programs that do both ?
which is best for drywall and framing ?
d-rock is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to d-rock For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   

Advertisement

 

Old 12-21-2009, 10:24 PM   #2
Pro
 
HomeElements's Avatar
 
Trade: GC materials
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: San Jose
Posts: 116
Rewards Points: 75

Re: Estimating Software


Not the Cheapest estimateing software but light years ahead of anything else Xactimate 25. I have it pricelists updated quarterly for your region, takes into account EVERYTHING. Tons of useful reports, as I said def not the cheapest but the best IMO.

Advertisement

__________________
www.homeelements.us FD sales www.builderelements.com
HomeElements is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to HomeElements For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 12-23-2009, 10:23 AM   #3
Registered User
 
joemeowers's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 15
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Estimating Software


QuickBooks suits my needs quite well.
joemeowers is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to joemeowers For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 12-23-2009, 10:24 AM   #4
Registered User
 
joemeowers's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 15
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Estimating Software


I know manufacturing and wholesale edition has the capability to make estimates at least.
joemeowers is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to joemeowers For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 12-23-2009, 05:53 PM   #5
I'm on a boat!
 
J L's Avatar
 
Trade: Yacht carpenter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Posts: 3,167
Rewards Points: 3,442

Re: Estimating Software


I used to write my estimates up by hand on spreadsheets and then type them up in quickbooks for contractors. If you're doing repetitious bids, quickbooks works well. You are also able to create items and pull them up in an estimate, input the quantity, and have a predetermined mark up show up. You can also save an estimate for something you do often as a template. However, the more one off/custom items you do, the less convenient it is. IMHO

I recently purchased smartcontractor which is an estimating/project management software. I'm in the process of creating my own database which takes many mind numbing hours, but the end result is that I'm able to bid much more quickly and accurately and after the bid, work orders, purchase orders, and RFQs can be created in seconds. Also, I like the job recap which shows all payments, invoices, change orders, adjustments for allowances, and everything else that has changed the original contract price. We do all types of remodeling - kitchens, bathrooms, basement finishes, screen porches, decks, window replacements - so we needed something versatile and so far, this has fit the bill.

I'm not a big fan of regional database pricing. I don't trust a database to tell me how fast or slow my guys work, only I know that after many estimate versus actual reviews of completed jobs.

There's lots of good programs out there. Good luck
J L is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to J L For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 12-26-2009, 04:59 AM   #6
Member
 
ACHOA's Avatar
 
Trade: G.C. - Residential Endorsed
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Valdez-AK
Posts: 40
Rewards Points: 25

Re: Estimating Software


I use to use the RSMeans book but found they were minimal and lacked a lot of the little items.

I am now using the "Craftsman Estimating Software and Books". Do a google search for Craftsman Estimating Sofware. They also have various other reference material to purchase.

I have the 2008 CD estimator. It does not come with the books so I only purchase two that I commonly use (Repair & Remodel - Framing & Finish Carpentry) yet the the remainder of the data "Books" are on the CD. I do find I occasionlly do a search for items in those other sections. I like it since it allow you to adjust any component within the estimating pages to match your location. It does come with a location factor yet I find I still had to tweak that somewhat. As mentioned below it does convert estimates over to Quickbooks. I do highly recommend getting the book that covers what you most commonly do to accomidate the CD version. Makes browsing eaiser, plus allows a quick field estimate if applicable.

Comes with the following:

If your computer has Windows™ and a CD-ROM drive, CD Estimator puts at your fingertips 85,000 construction costs for new construction, home improvement, remodeling, renovation & insurance repair, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, painting and concrete & masonry and earthwork and heavy equipment.
You'll also have the National Estimator program – a stand-alone estimating program for Windows that Remodeling magazine called a "computer wiz." To help you create professional-looking estimates, the disk includes over 40 construction estimating and bidding forms in a format that's perfect for nearly any word processing or spreadsheet program for Windows. And to top it off, a 70-minute interactive video teaches you how to use this CD-ROM to estimate construction costs.


Includes:
Job Cost Wizzard – turns estimates into invoices and exports both in QuickBooks
Free Online Support for the National Estimator Software
Free Monthly National Estimator Updates – Updates to the 2010 costbooks and zip code modification factors are updated monthly. Monthly price updates on the Web are free and automatic all during 2010. You'll be prompted when it's time to collect the next update. A connection to the Web is required.

Contains the complete databases of: 2010 National Construction Estimator
2010 National Concrete & Masonry Estimator
2010 National Earthwork & Heavy Equipment Estimator
2010 National Electrical Estimator
2010 National Framing and Finish Carpentry Estimator
2010 National Home Improvement Estimator
2010 National Painting Cost Estimator
2010 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator
2010 National Repair & Remodeling Estimator
2010 National Renovation and Insurance Repair Estimator
ACHOA is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to ACHOA For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 12-26-2009, 01:19 PM   #7
Pro
 
bconley's Avatar
 
Trade: Kitchen and bath design+remodel
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Vashon
Posts: 967
Rewards Points: 500

Re: Estimating Software


Quote:
Originally Posted by d-rock View Post
Thinking of getting into estimating software, any suggestions ?
are take-off programs completely different from estimating programs ?
are there affordable programs that do both ?
which is best for drywall and framing ?
The key is to know your prices.
I wouldn't trust the prices in the databases, it is a good way to not forget anything though, and they will get you close.
Like any software garbage in garbage out.
I use UDA construction suite and Quickbooks.
I can set up estimate templates in UDA tailored to my jobs so nothing is left out, and they sync with QB's for invoicing and job costing.
Setting up QB's properly for job costing is the most important part.
After time you will be able to see your actual costs.
bconley is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to bconley For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 12-28-2009, 07:42 PM   #8
Pro
 
HomeElements's Avatar
 
Trade: GC materials
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: San Jose
Posts: 116
Rewards Points: 75

Re: Estimating Software


Quote:
Originally Posted by bconley View Post
The key is to know your prices.
I wouldn't trust the prices in the databases, it is a good way to not forget anything though, and they will get you close.
Like any software garbage in garbage out.
I use UDA construction suite and Quickbooks.
I can set up estimate templates in UDA tailored to my jobs so nothing is left out, and they sync with QB's for invoicing and job costing.
Setting up QB's properly for job costing is the most important part.
After time you will be able to see your actual costs.
The thing I like about Xactimate is if a certain material spikes suddenly in your area you can submit to them the new price before it is changed quarterly. This software is used by 1000's of insurance contractors all over the US, only a handful of times did the material cost need to be changed (others submit priceing changes too, and they are very fast at verifying it and updateding). Seriously, I have used alot of different estimation software and this is by far the best.

If anyone would like to see an old estimate shoot me an email or something and I'll try to send you one if you're interested. In the giving mood I guess.
__________________
www.homeelements.us FD sales www.builderelements.com
HomeElements is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to HomeElements For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 03-11-2010, 11:12 AM   #9
Member
 
CementCreek's Avatar
 
Trade: just about everything
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 62
Rewards Points: 75

Re: Estimating Software


I've been using PlanSwift and like it. Does everything I need, the price is right in the middle. They have a 14 day trial free trial to see if you like it.

I would say take a jump and go with software, it has really made life easier. Just pick one, use it for a bit.
CementCreek is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to CementCreek For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 03-12-2010, 08:00 AM   #10
a contractors best friend
 
Business Guru's Avatar
 
Trade: Growing Businesses
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Chicago
Posts: 24
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Estimating Software


Be careful when using any kind of software as they are only as good as the coders that wrote them. There is nothing like good old excel spreadsheet. My clients use excel and quickbooks. Working with excel allows them to truly understand there costs. They then use the same sheet in order to record actuals. Having predefined services in quickbook allows them to create the estimates quicker.

When you understand your business, you will understand that there really is nothing to estimating. I have bid on $3000 to $300,000 projects this way.

((Materials Cost + Direct Labor Cost) * Overhead) * Profit = Price

Not sure if I can justify the hefty price tag on most estimating software. Some software will cost upwards of $6000 after 10 years of renewing.

Last edited by Business Guru; 03-12-2010 at 08:02 AM.
Business Guru is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Business Guru For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 03-12-2010, 01:28 PM   #11
Pro
 
d-rock's Avatar
 
Trade: carpentry/drywall/plaster
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: NYC
Posts: 377
Rewards Points: 250

Re: Estimating Software


Quote:
Originally Posted by Business Guru View Post

When you understand your business, you will understand that there really is nothing to estimating. I have bid on $3000 to $300,000 projects this way.

((Materials Cost + Direct Labor Cost) * Overhead) * Profit = Price
.
Not sure i really understand what you mean by 'there is nothing to estimate'. I'm mainly interested in something that will help speed up the process, at least the mechanical stuff like quantity /linear and sq. footage. (takeoffs).
Additionally, a program that could spit out number of boards I will need, # of studs, lbs of screws, etc etc. I spent hours customizing spread sheets, but every time I start an estimate I always have to change it around.

In essence, I'm not looking for something to tell me how much I should charge, I'm looking for something to save time.
d-rock is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to d-rock For This Useful Post:
kiwiinnorway (01-12-2016), psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 03-13-2010, 06:27 AM   #12
a contractors best friend
 
Business Guru's Avatar
 
Trade: Growing Businesses
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Chicago
Posts: 24
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Estimating Software


Plain and simple the estimate is basic. But you can't put the estimate together until you have you materials quantity. THAT is the harder part. It's kind of like putting together a materials list for a project that is not yet secured...sucks.

The takeoff tools that I am familiar with are used for projects that have specked out plans. The tool lets you enter the scale and upload the architectural plans then you can pull a line across the drawing and it describes the length or high-lite an area and it tell you square footage. I never needed to measure any vertical areas because my company dealt in flat-work. I will look to see if can calculate materials quantity. I am sure there has to be a way, its just a basic algorithm.

I will post my results.
Business Guru is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Business Guru For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014), Texas Wax (06-05-2013)
Old 03-13-2010, 08:54 AM   #13
Fortune and glory, kid.
 
moorewarner's Avatar
 
Trade: Remodeler/Restorer
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Saint Louis, MO
Posts: 2,284
Rewards Points: 1,022

Re: Estimating Software


I think for the most part estimating and takeoff software are separate applications, especially at the lower end. More advanced, and costly, as well as complex applications may more likely cover both.

Takeoffs are more in the building aspect of things, for example Chief Architect a CAD program I use will spit out takeoffs.

Estimating is more in the business end of things. I also use Craftsman Estimating Software, to give myself a starting point on estimates. It is very reasonably priced at about $80.

A Google search turned up this, OnScreen Takeoff/QuickBid which while apparently working together is still two separate applications.

http://www.oncenter.com/

I have never used it by might check it out.

I am curious to hear what others use as well.
moorewarner is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to moorewarner For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 03-13-2010, 09:02 AM   #14
General Contractor
 
Willie T's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: St. Petersburg, FL Minds of moderate caliber ordinarily condemn everything which is beyond their range.
Posts: 3,444
Rewards Points: 12

Re: Estimating Software


Business Guru, I downloaded your "Employee Burden" Spreadsheet. (It arrived with a funky 'mime' extension, but I got around that)

I have to say it is an interesting tool to play with. Brings up a lot of factors one might not consider. Thank you for taking the time to build this, and for posting it on your blog.
__________________
"True eloquence consists in saying all that is necessary, and only that which is."
François Duc de La Rochefoucauld
Bill Everett - St. Petersburg, FL
Willie T is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Willie T For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 03-14-2010, 11:53 PM   #15
Trade: Decks and Fences
 
decksandfences's Avatar
 
Trade: decks and fences
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Windsor
Posts: 145
Rewards Points: 97

Re: Estimating Software


I just use an excel spreadsheet but I have a deck software strictly for customer purposes
__________________
Deck Builder , Fence Contractor,Vinyl Fence, Decks and Fences by Ryan
1361 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X 1J6 (519) 946-3042
decksandfences is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to decksandfences For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 04-02-2010, 10:39 PM   #16
Making Things Accessible
 
EricAnderson's Avatar
 
Trade: Wheelchair Accessible Housing
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 74
Rewards Points: 103

Re: Estimating Software


I agree with Xactimate or XactRemodel. I consult on projects across the county within the insurance industry and I use the program to create a cost estimate for feasibility studies. The program allows me to establish a good baseline when evaluating estimates and rarely is it too far off.

Its pricey ($600 annually) but it saves you that money with accurate quotes and allows you to submit a thorough/professional looking quote.
EricAnderson is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to EricAnderson For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 04-06-2010, 03:12 PM   #17
Member
 
CementCreek's Avatar
 
Trade: just about everything
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 62
Rewards Points: 75

Re: Estimating Software


A lot of it is just getting a good program, and learning how to use it. Yes Excel works but it takes a lot of time, epically on larger projects. What is your time worth? $600/year or $950/life either way if the program pays for itself if it saves you less than 1 hour a week.
__________________
Custom Homes Orland Park
CementCreek is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to CementCreek For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 05-12-2013, 12:12 PM   #18
Registered User
 
Mark Wright's Avatar
 
Trade: General Builder
Join Date: May 2013
Location: UK
Posts: 1
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Estimating Software


The fastest Construction Takeoff Software program I have used allows you to measure quickly and export the dims to Excel, there is a demo of it on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr9fc...ature=youtu.be
Mark Wright is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Mark Wright For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 05-12-2013, 09:08 PM   #19
Pro
 
schaefercs's Avatar
 
Trade: Remodeling
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Rochester NY
Posts: 593
Rewards Points: 520

Re: Estimating Software


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Wright
The fastest Construction Takeoff Software program I have used allows you to measure quickly and export the dims to Excel, there is a demo of it on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr9fc...ature=youtu.be
Well this isn't a sketchy first post...
schaefercs is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to schaefercs For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)
Old 06-05-2013, 10:03 PM   #20
Registered User
 
jonny33000's Avatar
 
Trade: Construction Manager
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 5
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Estimating Software


"On Screen Take Off" is a good program for getting quantities off drawings and Earthworks is really simple and effective for earthwork take off. I've used Timberline for pricing, but it is a little less user friendly.

Advertisement

jonny33000 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to jonny33000 For This Useful Post:
psameer (05-19-2014)


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Estimating Software Immanuel Electrical 12 04-28-2011 02:44 PM
Stick method or Estimating software rbsremodeling Business 21 03-11-2009 10:17 AM
looking to buy estimating software gcoast805 Technology 6 02-05-2009 05:02 PM
Estimating Software attchandyman General Discussion 9 01-14-2009 04:54 PM
Estimating and Software - Review of 5 Programs! 10.25.08 SLSTech Business 7 12-19-2008 01:05 PM

Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?